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Huge rise in migration from Britain and Ireland, but very few skilled Greeks choose to head down under

Rising unemployment in Europe has driven an influx of Irish and British skilled migrants to labour-strapped pockets of the Australian economy.

Skilled migration from Greece, where unemployment topped 20 per cent in November, remains low.

The West Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry predicts that WA will need 500,000 extra workers by 2020, and a shortfall of 150,000 WA workers by 2017.

42,793 people came from Britain and Ireland to Australia between 1 July 2011 and 31 December 2011, mostly on working holiday visas.

Working holiday visas for UK citizens jumped more than 30% from the same half-year period in 2010.

Skilled workers entering Australia from Ireland on 457 visas topped the trend with a jump of 68% to 3095, up from 1840 during the corresponding period in 2010.

Only 30 Greek citizens picked up employer-sponsored working visas, 457s, to Australia in the half-year to December 31.

A spokesman for the Greek consulate in Sydney, Nick Economidis, said there was a growing tendency for Greek white-collar professionals to migrate to other European countries, rather than faraway places such as Australia.

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